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the barn school logistics: 2015/16 curriculum choices

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This is essentially a list of the resources we’re planning to use next school year. If you’d like more commentary or review of something, leave a comment or send me an email. I’m an absolute novice, but I can tell you how things have worked for us so far!

Morning Basket (the whole family participates over breakfast & coffee/tea)

Penelope – Second Grade

Arthur – Kindergarten

Zoe – Pre-K

  • Mommy & Me Pre-K co-op with letter-a-week curriculum and monthly field trip
  • She’s already working her way through the Rod & Staff A-B-C series
  • Five in a Row Volumes 1 and 2 – she’ll listen to the story and participate in the activity at her level.
  • Sensory play and fun toys that build letter/number/logic skills (lots of options for this type of thing over at timberdoodle)
  • When she’s ready, she’ll start working on phonics more formally, but we’re in no rush!

Felix – Preschool

  • He’s working his way through the “About 3” series from Rod & Staff
  • Five in a Row Volumes 1 and 2 – he’ll listen to the story and participate in the activity at his level.
  • Sensory play and fun toys that build letter/number/logic skills (lots of options for this type of thing over at timberdoodle)
  • When he’s ready, he’ll start working on phonics more formally, but we’re in no rush!

Enrichment

  • Twice a week we have a “book picnic” – I read a classic children’s novel or poetry (lots of ideas at ambleside and memoria press) while we munch. It’s a highlight!
  • Twice a week we do “nature study” – this is sometimes as simple as taking their journal into our yard to find something interesting to draw, and other times taking their journal on a hike at our local nature center, and even occasionally an elaborate field trip like the aquarium. It varies in complexity, but is on our schedule for twice a week. It’s not unusual for them to come in from nature study time and pull out the microscope, encyclopedias, or to request some help youtube searching, but this isn’t required. It’s an interest-led endeavor.
  • Once a week we do art study. I’m excited about next year as we’ll be doing this, along with a science experiment, with a couple of other homeschooling families. Our own little co-op!

the barn school logistics: our daily rhythm

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First of all, let me say that I am absolutely new at this. There are countless people who are more qualified to write about homeschooling than myself.

But still – as soon as people find out that we homeschool – they’re all questions.

How do you get schoolwork done with so many little ones? What does a day look like? What curriculum do you use? and there’s plenty of Are you crazy?! :)

So I’m going to write a few homeschooling-centered posts. Bear with me folks, I promise it’ll be right back to kid pictures and long stretches of silence. Hah!

So here’s my “day in the life” post. It’s the ideal day written out. Very many times it’s derailed by bickering (err, I mean “character development opportunities.” That sounds more polished, right?), potty accident(s), a really cool bird flying by the window, or a family celebration over what one of them has accomplished.

Our day starts with Morning Basket – some families call it circle time, morning time, morning meeting, etc. – there’s all kinds of names for it. Look around online and you’ll find lots of helpful chatter. We’ve got a basket of books on the table, we go through them in the morning, so the name is kind of pragmatic.

As the kids munch their breakfast and I drink my coffee, we go through our basket. I’ve got little laminated cards that serve as a checklist, just in case the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet. We pray then go through bible, a hymn, memory work, Spanish, and a non-fiction readaloud (M/W history, T/Th science, F my choice – sometimes it’s poetry, a fable, an article about something we’ve studied, etc.). I’ll talk more about the specific book selections we use in a later post.

The littles love breakfast, so spending an hour at the breakfast table isn’t a problem. If it stretches longer than that (questions/discussion are encouraged), I usually grab a playdough tub or colored pencils/paper for them. I’m also in the habit of making them tea or warm milk, only during this time, so they feel especially grown up and sophisticated with their little mugs.

After that – and this is a new addition – we do a few silly songs or fingerplays. Think preschool stuff. Itsy Bitsy Spider, Head/Shoulders/Knees/Toes. Something to get us moving and laughing, to get some of the wiggles out before we head to the school room.

Then we hit the books.

  • Penelope does math, spelling, grammar, science or social studies (alternating days), penmanship, literature, reading, and practices piano.
  • Arthur does math, phonics, penmanship, and tags along whenever social studies has battles or science has an experiment.
  • Zoe does math, phonics, listens to picture books, scissors/pencil skills, and lots of sensory play.
  • Felix counts and sorts things, listens to picture books, pencil/crayon skills, and lots of sensory play.
  • I’ll address the logistics of this (especially so many young children!) in another post.

Then I kick them all outside so I can make lunch. I usually eat while they play, so that I can read from our lunchtime lit (a classic children’s chapter book, fiction) while they’re eating.

After lunch, like clockwork, it’s quiet rest time. It’s two hours where the little two sleep, and the big two quietly busy themselves with previously-discussed parameters (yes: reading, legos, crafting, microscoping, etc. — no or limited: screens, anything loud, grazing, asking me questions, etc.)

Sometimes Penelope needs a little extra help on schoolwork, or wants to push ahead to the next lesson. I use quiet rest time for that, too. Next year, when A is an “official” kindergartner, I imagine doing the same with him.

Afternoons are free for hiking, scootering, biking, errands, slacklining, staging theatrical productions, forcing hot wheels to launch into ravines, elaborate pretend play, following Grandpa around in the yard, etc.

Phew. That was a doozy.

Coming soon: our curriculum choices, and logistics with a house full of little ones

Morning Basket: Casey and Penelope were ENGROSSED in some Spanish practice. It was the very end of our basket, so I gave the others something quiet to do while they listened.

Morning Basket: Casey and Penelope were ENGROSSED in some Spanish practice. It was the very end of our basket, so I gave the others something quiet to do while they listened.